Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The world according to Hitch has a lot of interesting snippets. What caught my eye:

Feb. 14, 1989, as Mr. Hitchens describes it, was a day that changed his life and moved him further from the leftist camp. That was the day Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran issued his now infamous fatwa against Mr. Rushdie for his depiction of Muhammad in his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses. The ayatollah's edict included a $3 million bounty and ordered Mr. Rushdie's execution. It was only partially rescinded in 1998.

"It wouldn't have made any difference if he wasn't a friend, because here is the religious dictator of a foreign state offering money in his own name for the murder of a writer of fiction, who is not even an Iranian living in exile. This is the most frontal assault on all the values of free expression that make my life possible and my living possible."

Mr. Rushdie spent nearly a decade in hiding, and spent part of that time living with Mr. Hitchens in his Washington apartment. The author and his round-the-clock armed security holed up with Mr. Hitchens, his wife, and a new baby until New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd "annoyingly published" Mr. Rushdie's location, and he again had to take flight.

The Sea will be made into a movie. No, I am not jumping for joy this time.

Irish author John Banville has revealed his Man Booker Prize winning novel The Sea will be adapted for the screen and suggests Anthony Hopkins could make the perfect leading man.
***
In the early days Banville says he would write version after version of a novel before publishing.

His first included a collection of short stories, Long Lankin, followed by Nightspawn in 1971 and Birchwood in 1973.

"The first book I wrote, I had nine versions of it," he said.

"Now I go over and over the sentences until I get them right and then move onto the next. It's a snail-like process.

"Four to five chapters in a book will kill it dead so you have to get it near perfect before you publish."

Despite winning countless prizes over the years, Banville says they mean nothing.

"No matter how many books you have published or how many awards you have won, you think your books are going to be a terrible disaster. We never grow up as writers."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

An edited transcript (via) of Arundhati Roy's interview on the Amy Goodman syndicated radio show.



AG: And the Maoists, what are their demands?

AR: Well, the Maoists are fighting on two fronts. One is that they are fighting a feudal society, their feudal landlords. You have, you know, the whole caste system which is arranged against the indigenous people and the Dalits, who are the untouchable caste. And they are fighting against this whole corporatization. But they are also very poor people, you know, barefoot with old rusty weapons. And, you know, what we -- say someone like myself, watching what is happening in Kashmir, where -- or in the northeast, where exactly what America is doing in Iraq, you know, where you're fostering a kind of civil war and then saying, "Oh, if we pull out, these
people just will massacre each other." But the longer you stay, the more you're enforcing these tribal differences and creating a resistance, which obviously, on the one hand, someone like me does support; on the other hand, you support the resistance, but you may not support the vision that they are fighting for. And I keep saying, you know, I'm doomed to fight on the side of people that have no space for me in their social imagination, and I would probably be the first person that was strung up if they won. But the point is that they are the ones that are resisting on the ground, and they have to be supported, because what is happening is unbelievable.

***
AG: I want to ask in our last 30 seconds: the role you see of the artist in a
time of war?

AR: Well, I think the problem is that artists are not a homogenous lot of people, and some of them are as rightwing and establishment as they can get, you know, so the role of the artist is not different from the role of any human being. You pick your side, and then you fight, you know? But in a country like India, I'm not seeing that many radical positions taken by writers or poets or artists, you know? It's all the seduction of the market that has shut them up like a good medieval beheading never could.

AG: And what do you think artists should do?

AR: Exactly what anyone else should do, which is to pick your side, take your position, and then go for it, you know?

There is something very idiotic in the way I come up with the word "heartwarming" only on Sundays. As if the rest of the days have to be confined to their cold, clinical reactions; as if days determine reactions. There is also something equally stupid about making such assertions and trying to disown the rare flashes of sentimentality.

Ah, forget it. What I was trying to say was, this piece is a total gem. Hey, psst..., it is a Banville link (don't curse me after clicking on it!)

When I asked if winning the Booker had significantly raised his profile, he replied: "For about three minutes." Authors, he said, did not enjoy the same level of fame as rock stars. He began telling stories about Ireland's most famous export, U2. "They never pay for anything," he noted, with a a tinge of envy. "Wherever they go, someone else is happy to pick up the tab. They had a lunch at the River Cafe in London that lasted from one o'clock to eight and they just strolled out afterwards without any bill being presented."

In spite of its Booker victory, Banville does not rank The Sea highly among his novels. "I was surprised that it even got published," he told me. "The one that should have got the Booker was The Book of Evidence."


The Book of Evidence - the one that should have also got the Booker.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Liz Calder, founder of Bloomsbury, visiting Kolkata, talks about how she launched Rushdie, Rowling and (though not elaborated) Barnes and Brookner. She sure looks like she is aging very gracefully in the picture that the article carries.

Calder, 67, visiting the city on a British Council project, says it is the “same thing” that leads her to pick out writers. “An original voice. And authors who write about partly imaginary worlds, but explaining the real world and people,” says the founding editor of Bloomsbury, who also launched Julian Barnes and Anita Brookner. “The book should take you somewhere you don’t know. To new places of the mind,” says Calder.

This is as true of Rushdie, as of Rowling, who has single-handedly changed Bloomsbury’s “fortune” (Bloomsbury’s turnover is £109 million; and half of its business is said to be Harry Potter.)
The latest issue of Literature Matters carries this article on non-English (European) Crime Writers - how they provide new ways of looking at crime and how the recent exclusion of translated works from Crime Writers' Association's annual Award indicates the popularity of such translated works.

I would wager a vigorous bet that the influence of these books and authors will soon begin to make itself seen in the books of our own British and American crime and mystery authors as they familiarise themselves with new ways of looking at the world, approaching the universal theme of the struggle between good and evil, that is at the heart of most mystery fiction.

I, for one, am a huge fan of Henning Mankel, never being able to pass up an opportunity to pick up his latest Wallander mystery and offering the aging and all-too-human Wallander a giant dose of sympathy.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Coelho is travelling across Serbia:

Coelho's philosophical but plain-language novels have struck a chord with Russians, who love to ponder spiritual matters in late-night conversations around their kitchen tables.Breathless reports from television crews and news agencies have kept the country informed of his progress across the steppe, including precise details of his daily routine and diet.
...
"Russians particularly like that he talks about difficult philosophical ideas in an easy, accessible way that gives them a spiritual experience without spiritual labour," said a literary critic, Aleksander Gavrilov.
Hmm...
This seems to be the season for A.R.Rahman interviews. Here is the one in Mumbai Mirror.

I was amused by
There's always been something special from you for Aamir.
Like Mangal Pandey? (laughs). People did like the music and some of the songs. But my favourite ‘Maula’, originally meant to be in the whole climax, was chopped off after one stanza. There're so many factors that a composer can't control.
I nodded my head at
Your slow pace used to be a problem for Bollywood filmmakers.
How can my working methods be a problem to anyone? Every person has his own rhythm of work. Naushad Saab did only 47 films in his lifetime. He never regretted it and look at what he did to film music. I've my own way of working. It's a matter of priority. I'm at my best when I'm in control of my work. Of course, change is inevitable. That's why I keep innovating.
I was appreciative of
Do you think international success has eluded you?
It can't happen overnight. At the same time, I won't let my career in Hindi and Tamil films take a setback for projects abroad. Although my agent keeps insisting that I'd get a lot of work overseas, what I'm doing here is more important. I've invested a huge amount in my Chennai studio. Now, I need to invest time.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hop, skip or jump to this post of mine at the Chennai metblog to read about the health food restaurant called Sanjeevanam.

If you are a restaurant hopper in Chennai, have you been seeing what I have? In the last year, the number of Italian eating options are growing in Chennai. Every major road seems to have one these days. From Eatalica (quite the burger kinds though. Seems Indianized American-Italian), Little Italy, to the ones whose names I cannot recall now. The latest that I noticed is in Thirumalai Pillai Road, diagonally opposite to Vidyodaya Schools. It is called Fresca something. If you have tried one of these new Italian places and would recommend it, can you please send me an email or leave a comment here? I intend to do a quick round-up of some Italian eateries and your help will be most useful. Thanks and you can hop now ;)

Alvibest May 2006 issue is out

Yes, it is still a magazine you have to subscribe to, in order to read it in full. You can take a look at the announcement and cover page here. I hope you subscribe and I hope you don't miss reading my personal favourites: Outward Bound, Serious Whims, Lila, Retrosexual snoitcelfeR and Games. Enjoy!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Back in Business

Yeah back on the scene. Oh don't worry, I am not going to offer any reasons why I was away. I know you have better things to do than that!

I was catching up on my reading and here's the motley bag of favourites from those. Some of these might be old stuff, nevertheless, grant me this indulgence for a little while.

Guardian culture vulture's site of the week is Love Libraries. An interesting idea to spread the interest in libraries. The site is designed using the in vogue pink (is that what the uber-differentiated call fuschia? Hmm...when in doubt, check everything. And checking everything means the spelling too. It is fuchsia, silly Echo).

In what I see as a case of a Eureka moment in a high-paying zombie existence, some people are now looking to hire housewives and non-graduates to cope with extreme attrition rates.

While being on fluids (not this fluid silly) is not all rosy, listening to Fluid promises to be different. Naveen Kumar-of-Rahman-Bombay-flute-fame's debut album sounds like something worth checking out.

I really enjoyed reading about Rushdie and Oates meeting students in Wilmington.

Wait a minute! You say talent is a matter of practice? (via, via). And the world seems to be listening.

I was skimming the Rushdie page in postcolonialweb, where, apart from wondering about Rushdie's classification under Pakistan (an idle mind is dangerous!), I also happened upon this article which compares Ishiguro's and Rushdie's style and relationship to their subject matter. What interested me were the parts talking about how each of them approach the concept of shame.
If the word "explicit" comes to mind when describing Rushdie's style, then the word "implicit" should aptly define Ishiguro's style. In essence, Rushdie and Ishiguro both focus on the concept and consequences of shame. But whereas Shame clearly shows us this central theme, Ishiguro's work approaches the same theme by not showing; the issue of shame remains unspoken.

The use of 'grant me this indulgence' a few lines earlier sent me searching for Cicero's speech about the Greek Poet Archias. This is where I first noticed that expression.

So long and thanks for saving all the fish :)

Update: there are other people saying thanks for all the fish too! Just noticed. Yeah, another so long to Manish.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The audio files of the conversation between Amartya Sen and Salman Rushdie, as part of the PEN World Voices Literary Festival, is now available. At 74mins, it is going to take a while to focus and listen. Pretty interesting though.
Reading the World showcases an interesting collection of books from voices across the world (via TEV).

Appropriately enough, I just picked up Red Poppies yesterday.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

L.K.Advani has nice words to say about Rushdie and Shalimar the Clown:

Leader of the Indian Opposition in the Lok Sabha (Lower House) LK Advani on Monday praised Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie and his latest novel ‘Shalimar the Clown’, calling him a “courageous man”.

Monday, May 08, 2006

From GlobeandMail's article on Galbraith's reading and writing:

Galbraith admirers, however, are an independent lot, and from among his four dozen books (many still in print 50 years on; all available, albeit often well-worn, thanks to the Internet), each has his or her favourite. Time magazine, for example, hated The Affluent Society but lauded his novel A Tenured Professor as equal to Voltaire at his best. His wife Kitty still counts his history, The Great Crash: 1929, as her favourite, citing critic Mark Van Doren's judgment -- "History that reads like poetry" -- as her own. Galbraith himself felt he'd done his best writing in The Scotch, a gentle, often lyric remembrance of his youth in Elgin County, on the north shore of Lake Erie.
Neophytes, however, have no better place to start than The Essential Galbraith (Mariner Books, 2001), a wonderfully encompassing primer of his thought and
craftsmanship, composed of articles and excerpts drawn from his larger work. Assembled and arranged by his long-time editor and assistant Andrea Williams, it amounts to an introductory panopticon covering the career of this extraordinarily gifted, funny, intelligent -- and most important, wise -- man.
(link via TEV)

Monday, May 01, 2006

As a Man Thinketh

It is a rare man indeed who "retires" at the age of 38 to write books because he believes that he has something important to share with the world. Not because he can write well or because he can make money writing but because he had something to say. And it is a rarer man indeed who verifies the truth of what he has to say by living it first.

Such a man can create a lasting legacy, inspire a multi-billion dollar industry and transform several lives by the power of his words. Such a man can also remain unknown, unrewarded and minimally credited. In a world where secret lives of the rich and the famous can be searched at the click of a button, all you can know about such a man is that he was born in Leicester, England in 1864; worked as a personal secretary until the age of 38; lived and wrote from a small cottage in Ilfracombe, England; died at the age of 48.

James Allen, as one of the few sites about him puts it, is an "unrewarded genius". He was the original self-help author who inspired the hugely successful self-help/self-improvement industry. A lot of big names today - Denis Waitley, Anthony Robbins - mention his masterpiece As a Man Thinketh as one of the key books that got them thinking.

There is much power packed into the 30-odd pages in As a Man Thinketh - a simple and effective book. Something that self-help critics might want to read because there is no marketing, no six steps to a better tomorrow, no tapes and DVDs on special offer. There is just one practitioner's heartfelt writing.

Tempest-tossed souls, wherever ye may be, under whatsoever conditions ye may live, know this - in the ocean of life the isles of Blessedness are smiling, and sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the bark of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep; wake Him. Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power.